Sunday, March 30, 2008


She was born in a one room log cabin in the mountains of North Carolina almost 89 years ago. She helped farm shares with her 8 brothers and sisters. She came from a time when water had to be hauled, clothes were washed on a scrub board and whippings were common. She came from a time when you grew your own food, milked your own cows and didn’t waste anything. Whether it be walking 3 miles to school barefoot or watching her sister burn to death in a meadow fire, she certainly experienced, early on, more than her share of hardship and tragedy. Yet, she persevered.

Throughout the rest of her life she continued to encounter obstacles that would pull most people under. Yet, she managed to ceaselessly employ that same perseverance along with a strong work ethic that, although common in her generation, is often lacking today. She didn’t wallow in self pity or overanalyze life and its imperfections. Without question, she plowed her way through it, got over it, and moved on to the good parts.

When she died, my grandmother was almost 89 years old. She was married for 55 years. She had 3 children, 14 grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren and 7 great, great grandchildren. She was the source and anchor of a lifetime of memories for our family. She affected each of us differently but without a doubt, she will forever be a part of every one of our lives. Some of us remember her cooking Some of us remember her gardening. .
Some of us remember her canning. Some of us remember her scrubbing us clean. Some of us remember her yelling at us to keep out of her begonias. But I can guarantee you, all of us remember two things. We all remember the wall in her garage where our family history was recorded. And all of us remember her cornbread.

You see, when life gave my grandmother lemons… she just made cornbread. In a preheated cast iron skillet, of course. With a little butter melted in the bottom. And maybe a pot of green beans too. Made with a dollop of bacon grease. And how could you say no to her applesauce cookies?

Her food may be gone. Her canned peaches may be gone. Her garden and house are certainly gone. And, sadly, her body is gone. But, yet she lingers. The stories are there. The pictures are there. The memories are there. And, I hope, her attitude is there. I hope that all who knew her are able to recognize the amazing gift that she was. I hope we are able to take the best of her. I hope we recognize the value of her life and remember the lessons she taught us. I hope we learn to plow through it, get over it, and move on to the good parts. And then have some cornbread.

In loving memory of Nanny


1 cup cornmeal (yellow or white)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven and cast iron skillet to 400 degrees. Near the end throw in a dollup of butter or bacon grease. Combine corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Combine milk, oil, and egg in a bowl and mix well. Add milk mixture to flour mixture. Stir just until combined. Pour into preheated cast iron skillet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes our clean.

Applesauce Cookies

1 cup shortening (I’ve always used butter)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs beaten
4 cups cake flour (I’ve always used all purpose)
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups unsweetened applesauce (I’ve always used whatever is in the fridge)

Cream shortening and sugar together. Beat egg, add to creamed mixture and blend well. Sift all ingredients together (if you feel like it) and add alternately with the applesauce to the creamed mixture. Be sure to add flour first and last. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes at 375 degrees.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I am on my knees in the elementary school library, shelving books, when I hear her speak.

“How has your day been going?” she says.

I obliviously continue to shelve the books.

She speaks again. “How has your day been going?”

I rudely ignore her again.

“Hello…you?” she asks a bit louder than before.

Finally, curious as to whom she is talking to, I peak my head around the corner of the shelf. The school librarian is staring straight at me. “Yes, you!” she confirms. “How has your day been going?”

Red faced and embarrassed, I stand up and face her. “Oh, I’m so sorry. It didn’t realize you were talking to me.”

The librarian and I are the only two people in the library at that moment. Yet when she speaks it doesn’t even cross my mind that she would be talking to me. I visit the aisles of the grocery store and see people talking out loud to the air. But, they aren’t really talking to the air. I sit next to people at the doctor’s office and I think they are talking to me. But, they aren’t really talking to me. I take the boy to school every morning and I think the other mommies are talking to their children. But, they aren’t really talking to their children. They are talking to the person far away in their wireless earpiece. They are living in the world of their headset. They seem to be blind to what is right in front of them.

I am on my knees beside her wheelchair in the care facility when she hears me speak.

“How have you been doing?” I say.

She obliviously continues to stare at the television.

I speak again. “How have you been doing?”

She wordlessly ignores me again.

“Hello…Nanny?” I ask a bit louder than before.

Finally, curious as to who is making that noise, she turns her head toward me. She is staring straight at me. “Yes, you!” I confirm. “How have you been doing?”

Blank faced and seemingly unaware, my grandmother finally faces me. She doesn’t seem to understand a word I am saying to her.

My grandmother and I are the only two people in the room at that moment. Yet when I speak, it doesn’t seem cross her mind that I am talking to her. I have visited her on both good days and bad days. But for now, this isn’t a good day. I sit next to her and wonder if she even knows me. But for now, I’m not familiar. I take to heart the memories of the past and hope that she still has those memories as well. But for now, she isn’t remembering. I am talking to a person who sometimes seems so far away. She sometimes seems to be living in a world inside her head. We both feel blind to what is right in front of us.

Another woman with Alzheimer’s who lives in my grandmother’s care facility enters the room. Or maybe it’s a visiting relative. I don’t know. She is talking to the air. Or maybe she is talking to me. Or maybe she is talking to someone far away in her headset. Or maybe she is talking to her husband that died five years ago. I’m not quite sure. I look for the Bluetooth. I look for an earpiece. She doesn’t have either. Or maybe, it is hidden under her hair. I cannot tell.

But does it matter? The end result is the same for me. She talks. I tune her out. We are disconnected.

Check This Out!
The movie Believe In Me is based on the true story of legendary Oklahoma basketball coach Jim Keith. His wish to coach basketball takes a surprising turn when he must coach the girls' basketball team in a small, conservative town instead of the boys' team he was expecting to coach. Great sports movie with the typical feel good moments.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


The husband was tired and was going to bed.
He took off his glasses and laid down his head.
He gave a quick kiss and then he said,
“I’m really not feeling that well.”

He’d been working so hard, 6 days in a row.
Now his nose was plugged and he needed to blow.
And his head was still pounding, even though
He had swallowed a couple of pills.

I sat down on the bed right next to his arm.
I asked him if he had set his alarm.
I held his hand and I spoke with such charm
And I asked him how his day was.

He opened one eye but only half way.
He looked at me and then proceeded to say,
He was actually quite tired and work was ok.
And then he closed his eye again.

I wondered how his commute had been.
I looked down at him with my super cute grin.
And I charmingly asked him a question again.
“Honey, how was traffic today?”

He did not respond right away.
And he grunted after a tiny delay.
Then he mumbled and asked, “What did you say?”
But he never opened his eyes.

I could not believe what was happening here.
I was trying to bond with the husband, my dear.
And I was starting to think, I was starting to fear,
That he was ignoring me.

But I didn’t give up, I kept on trying.
He just had the sniffles, it’s not like he was dying.
So I kept on talking because I was still vying
To get some attention for me.

But the husband was out; he was out like a light.
He was in a deep sleep for the rest of the night.
And I was not happy; this was not alright.
He obviously didn’t care.

I felt neglected; I felt so cheated.
I did not like the way I was treated.
I felt so alone; I felt so defeated.
Didn’t he love me at all?

I sulked for a minute and I then poked his side.
I coughed much too loud and obnoxiously sighed.
But it didn’t matter how hard I tried.
The husband just wouldn’t wake up.

I sat on the bed and pondered my fate.
The husband and I could no longer relate.
I thought once that he was my only soul mate.
But obviously I was wrong.

As I got up to leave and go watch TV.
I looked down at the husband and was able to see
That he was as tired as a man could be
And there would be no talking tonight.

Despite his loud snoring I gave him a kiss.
I whispered to him about what he would miss.
I told him it was really too bad that this
Was how the night had gone.

The kids were in bed; they had been very tired.
I whispered to him about what I desired.
I was feeling quite frisky and very inspired.
It was a shame he was feeling so sick.

I started to walk out of the bedroom.
I was a bit sad and filled with some gloom.
I guess it was wrong for me to assume
That the husband wasn’t really that tired.

But lo and behold! You will never believe!
A miracle happened as I was ready to leave!
Perhaps I had been a little naïve
To think miracles didn’t exist.

But with God as my witness, the husband arose.
He was back from the dead, despite his stuffed nose.
How it happened, I think, that God only knows,
But then the husband sat up in bed!

“I’m not feeling that tired or sick anymore!”
He said much more livelier than before.
And then, he practically began to implore
“Did I hear you say you were frisky?”

I said to the husband, “You were sound asleep!”
“And I thought your sleep was really quite deep!”
“And your nose and your eyes had started to weep
Because your cold was so bad!”

“And I was talking to you but you kept ignoring.
In fact you even started up snoring!”
Then the husband said, “What you were saying was boring!
….until you got to the frisky part!”

I sighed and I started shaking my head.
I thought about yelling but then I instead
Told the husband that he could just go back to bed
Because my frisky was suddenly gone.

So he rolled his eyeballs and laid right back down.
On his face he was sporting a very large frown.
I felt a bit bad so I went to sit down
On the side of the bed again.

I looked down at him with my super cute grin.
I lovingly rubbed his hair stubbled chin.
Then I started to ask him a question again,
Because, after all…he was already awake.

“Hey husband, I did wonder, what you would think
If I wanted to paint the guest bathroom pink?”
I do think he thought my idea did stink
Because his answer was a very loud snore.

Check This Out!
The Slightly Exaggerated husband and children have been thoroughly enjoying playing Guitar Hero on the neighbor's xbox 360. They have also enjoyed SingStar on their cousins' PlayStation. We strongly recommend that you too find generous and kind neighbors and relatives that have these games and are willing to let your family play. They'll have a blast.

Friday, March 7, 2008

A Year From Now

The husband could not stop lecturing. The trapped teenager sat in the back seat of the car and politely listened, albeit with a somewhat detached, 13 year old, aloof air about her. The car trip home from middle school basketball practice had turned into a Politics 101 lesson. When the husband and the teenager walked in the front door, the political lesson did not stop. Finally, only when the husband saw pork chops on the dinner table, did he began to wrap up his opinionated political diatribe. The boy had the naive nerve to prolong the one sided conversation by asking a loaded question about… Hillary.

“Well, I just don’t think I could ever vote for Hillary.” the husband responded. “I just don’t think she’s electable.”

“But, “the boy continued, “what if Hillary showed up on your porch right now and personally asked you for your vote? Would that make a difference?”

The husband and I and the teenager laughed out loud at how preposterous that was. The husband answered with a chuckle. “Oh son, first of all Hillary doesn’t give a hill of beans about me. And second of all, there’s no way she’d ever show up on my porch.” The family had a good laugh about that. For 23 seconds. Give or take a few seconds.

And then the phone rang.

The computer caller ID voice on the phone announced out loud who the phone call was from. The phone range twice and then the computer voice began to speak.


The family froze. I put down my fork. The husband put down his pork chop. The children’s faces went pale. In total spooked shock, we let it ring. The 8 year old boy spoke first. “Whoooaaaa. She’s good. She gets my vote!”

We never did answer the phone. When we played the message back it was a personal recorded message from Hillary inviting us to her local rally that night. If we couldn’t make it, she hoped we would trust in her experience. She wanted to personally ask us to vote for a better America, by voting for Hillary.

In the next year our country will vote for a new president. A year from now…where will our country stand?

The staff at Slightly Exaggerated is proud to celebrate our first anniversary of blogging the Slightly Exaggerated way. Staffers have been reviewing the past year’s worth of blogs and making notes for future blogs. A year ago we had no idea what would transpire and inspire us to write a blog every week or so. Life took many unexpected, unplanned and sometimes, even amusing turns. Much of it was captured in words, some slightly exaggerated, some raw and real. And as we look forward to our second year, we here at Slightly Exaggerated ask ourselves and you the question: A year from now…where will we be?

A year from now my suburbia will have continued to struggle with stagnant home sales, rising gas prices and tolerance and diversity toward others. A year from now…what will my town be like?

A year from now the husband will have most likely completed his 500 horsepower, uses only expensive racing gas, 1969 Camaro. A year from now… will his dream monstrosity actually work as well as he has planned it to?

A year from now the teenager will be in junior high and will be well on her journey to separate from me and become more independent. A year from now…will I even know who she is?

A year from now the boy will have had another year of spouting forth words I need to look up in the dictionary on our way to Urgent Care for yet another injury. A year from now…will he still have all of his appendages?

A year from now the cats will have figured out new ways to open child proofed cabinets, will have practiced unique ways to annoy me in the middle of the night and will have discovered how to, yet again, steal my dinner straight from my plate. A year from now…will I have let them live?

A year from now I will be an almost 40 year old blog writer searching for paying jobs, lamenting the new fat rolls on my stomach and over analyzing my 20 year marriage. A year from now…will I be happy?

A year from now my country, my town, my husband, my children, my cats, me and every one of you out in this Slightly Exaggerated world will be another year older. A year from now…where will we be?

I was visiting my online grief group the other day, sadly remembering my mother’s passing this past October. As I read each person’s comment in the chat room, I became a bit frustrated with how negative they were. And then it hit me. For once, I was not the saddest, most messed up person in that chat room. In fact, those people were depressed, some of them severely so. I knew I wasn’t like them. I wasn’t even remotely close to feeling like they did. I realized that when I hung out with them online, they made me feel worse. I didn’t want to feel worse. In fact, I was very much looking forward to feeling better. In the past, there was some comfort in dwelling on my mother’s death. As sad and depressing as it was, at least I still felt like I had a part of her close to me. But, not now. Now, I was finally ready to move on. I didn’t want to be in that chat room anymore. I didn’t want to be sad anymore. That realization came as a shock to me. After so many long months, I could finally see that I had made progress.

A year ago my mother wasn’t even sick. A year from now…? Well, it just goes to show you that you never know where you’ll be a year from now.

Check This Out!

The Slightly Exaggerated board of directors have recently enjoyed the music of Buckcherry, a whole jar of spicy green salsa and the movie MASH from 1970, none of which should ever be enjoyed in the presence of children.